Different from the rest
Not so very long ago, avian researchers thought that the male and female eclectus parrots were two entirely different species of parrot. That’s not surprising since they look completely different from each other: the male being predominantly florescent green and the female bright red and blue. They are one of very few color dimorphic parrots – those whose gender can be determined by appearance.
As it turns out, there is a lot about the eclectus parrot that makes them different from the rest.
Another notable difference is in the quality of their contour feathers, which line the head, necks, and undersides of the body. Where the feathers on other parrot species have interlocking barbs (the small strands that extend from the feather shaft), the eclectus contour feathers barbs do not interlock and have a hair-like appearance. The tail and flight feathers have interlocking barbs, as it is necessary for flight.
While the eclectus parrot plays vigorously with its toys and is a great talker and mimicker, they are generally known as quiet and calm birds. There is an upside and a downside to their calmness…
The upside is that, in captivity, they are not regarded as screamers. Anybody with parrot experience will immediately see this is as a plus. They are excellent parrots for apartment dwellers or condo owners.
The downside is not as clear. Experienced owners of the eclectus parrot will tell you that their quiet and calm demeanor makes it especially hard to gauge their level of contentment in captivity.
The eclectus parrot expresses their stress and fear completely differently from other parrot species. Where most parrots will issue a piercing warning call, fly off or bite when they are frightened, the eclectus resorts to a very different behavior: they become still and quiet.
Without obvious signs of distress, owners unfamiliar with the eclectus will not be aware when their parrot is nervous or unhappy in their environment. They will be shocked when they discover a plucking problem or a stress related illness, or receive an unexpected bite one day.
Owners, new owners in particular, must be constantly aware of everything in the eclectus environment. It will be your job to spot potential problems since your bird will not point them out you.
Different dietary needs
The eclectus is considered to be one of the more difficult species to feed properly. They are particularly prone to some illnesses that result from inadequate diet.
The eclectus digestive system is different from that of other parrot species (its intestines are longer and it proventriculus is bigger), making it a more dynamic system with which to deliver nutrients AND fats. Because of this, the eclectus is prone to fatty tumors, obesity and fatty liver disease.
Another common affliction are strange neurological disorders called toe tapping and wing flipping where the feet clench and unclench and/or the wings drop from position and “flick” back into place involuntarily and rhythmically.
Both conditions are said to be a result of their remarkably efficient digestive system’s ability to cause excessive nutrient delivery. This makes appropriate diet an essential part of eclectus ownership.
How to prevent and cure Fatty Liver disease in parrots can be found in our natural feeding system within our cookbooks.